A sweltering summer’s heat. Florida, USA.

Not all of my photography subjects are big magnificent beasts. Sometimes I take an interest in the smaller members of the animal kingdom. I’m very keen on capturing bird wall art photography, just as I am keen on photographing horses or mountain lions. It was this pursuit of smaller fauna that brought me to Florida to photograph seabirds. This picture that I was able to return with shows a flock of seabirds dozing off in the hot sun. The multitude of birds here relied on a few individuals to keep watch for the rest. They trusted each other enough to make themselves vulnerable to threats and even rotated their watch duties. They displayed a level of trust that was commendable even to people. While I appreciate my work for letting be sell art online, I appreciate it more for the lessons that I can learn.

Birds of a Feather

When I crept up on this flock in the picture of birds above, I wasn’t able to fully register just how many individuals were included. How many birds had been born into this family, that traveled together, ate together, and slept together. With such a big family, the risk of members getting harmed can be exponentially large. It is because of this that many animals developed certain flock or herd behaviors that they use to protect themselves. 

I watched this flock as it navigated the sky above me. It moved as if it were an amorphous glob, completely formless, freely flowing through the air. When the fowl finally landed, they shuffled about until they found a comfortable patch of land to have their afternoon nap on. Then everyone of those hundreds of fowl closed their eyes and drifted off to sleep. All but a few. The flock left a couple of volunteer vigilantes to look over the rest of them as they rested. Those on watch seemed to immediately assume their position, not think too much about their job. There wasn’t a scuffle to decide whose duty it was, or whose turn it was, there was simply an uncommunicated devotion to the safety of the flock. I stopped looking for perfect shots for bird wall art and started observing the fowl’s social structure.

Better yet, the other birds would eventually relieve their guards of their duties and allow them to rest too.  Then, the clock would return to its slumber. One, maybe two, birds would stay awake to return the favor. This happened in such perfect succession that it seemed like there was definitely some form of communication between them. To the average observer, there was nothing being said between these simple animals. But I saw the human behavior behind their interactions. However, the more I thought about it, this seemed to be less like human behavior and more like animal behavior. 

Humans have much to gain from this kind of partnership and collaboration. While we live in communities and can be very social animals, but simultaneously we tend to act very individualistically. 

The Anti-social Human

People are often rushing about, paying attention to their phones, newspapers or art magazines. A far cry from the interconnected flock that I was photographing. Even the average person has their fair share of people that they consider to be their “flock”. However, even the strongest people can feel vulnerable. Perhaps we could take some notes on the community to implement in our own human behavior.

With social media, globalization and the rise of communication, people are more connected than ever. However, studies have shown that we are unfortunately still very individualistic. Just because we have more ways to be in touch doesn’t mean that we are utilizing them. More and more people are inspired to be independent in their lives and value self-sufficiency above all else. 

How one defines independence also makes a difference. To some, it may be a lack of dependence on others for anything from financial security to physical wellbeing. The subject of my bird wall art found security in trusting each other and being vulnerable with those close to them. Humans like myself instead often struggle to come to terms with this kind of vulnerability. We’d often rather just take on the extra continuous burden of doing everything for ourselves than ask for help.

Even though I started out following these birds for my bird wall art, I left with an important observation. My initial goal to sell art online helped me find a great metaphor for how we as people can find strength in each other. The contrast between the blue mixed in with the black and white makes for a very stunning bird photo.


Enjoy More Animal Pictures

Horses | Lions | Tigers | Elephants | Monkeys | Bears | Birds | Snowy Owls | Arctic Wolves | Mountain Lions | Musk Oxen | Bald Eagles | Bison | Reindeer | Arctic Fox